Arsenal failed to get a goal in the London derby against West Ham United but scoring against a team who play 10 men behind the ball would be a difficult proposition for most clubs.
The criticism leveled at Arsene Wenger after the game was and is still thoroughly unjust. West Ham showed no real imagination and even though coach Steve Clarke claimed they were disappointed not to make more than their two chances they were more than happy with the goalless draw. Wenger is trying to create a total footballing side playing in an almost harmonic manner but it’s fruition is set to take more time as Hleb and Flamini departed the club in the summer.
Admittedly Arsenal were missing in two key positions against the Hammers; central midfield (Cesc Fabregas) and right midfield (Rosicky/Walcott). However as players played in the position the fans wanted before the game you could argue everyone was wrong though some will argue it was further reason to strengthen.
Denilson took the creative reigns in the second half but couldn’t create any real chances while Eboue, Nasri and Bendtner all played on the right at some point. The importance of Fabregas is highlighted by the chances he has created for this season.
Chances created by Arsenal Players
- Cesc Fabregas: 50
- Robin Van Persie: 40
- Emmanuel Adebayor: 35
- Denilson: 34
- Samir Nasri: 33
Hopefully this can be the making of Denilson. With confidence and experience he will become more expansive in his passing and demanding of the ball. The between-the-line players are becoming more important in the modern game as one can see of the influence of De Rossi, Alonso and Carrick on recent weeks. The channel in between midfield and attack needs better exploitation however where one can link up play and create chances. Diaby was also strong and made 12 successful tackles and three interceptions.
Also missing was the movement to drag defenders out of their positions and away from their game plan though it is harder if the team gives no space. As mentioned Hleb was an integral part of the team last season and his fluidity, flexibility and interchangeability underrated. He would crop up at every part of the pitch to support and link up play. The graphic below displays Denilson’s passes against West Ham where more risks should have been taken and requiring players in and around the box. The graphic of Hleb is against Manchester United. (Not a direct comparison)
Eboue looked to make good movement and as he came inside and dragged defenders with him where in theory, the space should have been utilised by another member. Referring back to last season, Cesc Fabregas made those late runs into the box and in the process scored plenty of goals early last season. Barcelona carry out this tactic, Pep Guardiola calling the player a ‘llegada’ (arrival).
Manchester United have also found it difficult in recent games as their last ten matches has seen seven 1-0 wins.
(I’ll write an article on the imminent transfer of Arshavin when the dust settles and after the bloggers write identikit posts on the player at the same time.)